31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Luke 13:31-35

Last week, Facebook and Instagram experienced technical difficulties. In other words, for my generation, speaking for all millennials, life as we know it was put on pause and we waited anxiously to see if our source for purpose, joy and happiness would ever return. You may or may not have been affected by the social media issues from last week, but because there are over 2 billion Facebook users around the world, a lot of people were. Facebook has such power in so many people’s lives because it connects us to one another. Through Facebook, we can see what is happening in our friends and families lives no matter where they are in the world, and even keep tabs on people we liked in the past or follow our favorite brands and celebrities. Facebook allows us to fulfill that need to be connected, but are we really connected? Facebook does allow us to connect, but are we honest about who we are on the internet? Do we add or subtract parts of who we are when we are on Facebook to get more followers? When Jesus came into the world, he wanted to reconnect with everyone, but he didn’t use the most popular way to get followers. Instead, Jesus reached his goal at the cross to gather his people.

Although Jesus came into the world with the best of intentions, people still didn’t want him around. In our Gospel reading from Luke 13, we hear that

31 … some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

Jesus got a double rejection in this verse. Not only did the religious leaders of the Jews not want Jesus around, even the political leader wanted Jesus dead. Jesus struck a nerve with these groups because he exposed their wickedness. Jesus showed the Pharisees to be hypocrites who claimed to keep God’s laws but hadn’t. And, Herod wanted Jesus dead because Jesus reminded him of John the Baptist, killed by Herod, who called Herod out for stealing his brother’s wife among other evil things he had done. These groups wanted Jesus out of their region and especially away from Jerusalem where the Jewish temple was and where Herod’s palace was.

Jesus was rejected by the people of Jerusalem, which was the pattern for all the prophets in the Old Testament. Time after time, God sent prophets to show the people their sins in the hope that they would ask God for forgiveness and turn back to serving him, but they were rejected, and many were killed. In our Old Testament reading from Jeremiah 26, the prophet Jeremiah had been sent to warn the people of Jerusalem to turn away from their sins or they would be destroyed. He told the people the truth, but they wanted to keep living a lie that allowed them to ignore God and what he wanted for them. Their anger at hearing God’s Word was so great that they planned to kill Jeremiah and in response he said, Jeremiah 26:15

“Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”

The people of Jerusalem had no other reason to kill Jeremiah except that he shared God’s message for them. Jesus was in the same situation, an innocent man threatened with death, but even the threat of death would not stop him. When threatened,

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

When threatened, Jesus never said, “Yea you are right Pharisees, that Herod is a scary guy and I don’t really like confrontation, being different, betrayed, persecuted or killed, so I’ll just go do something else or take back all the things I’ve done.” No, Jesus told them to tell Herod, if he had really said something to them at all, that he was going to keep on with his goal to die in Jerusalem.

I wonder how many followers Jesus would have on Facebook if it was around back then. Jesus boldly shared God’s Word with everyone, friends, enemies, Israelites, Romans, he did not change who he was, even though many people wanted him to be something he was not. It is hard to find someone both bold and on the side of truth on the internet and in the real world. We might even believe it is hard to find someone both bold and on the side of truth in churches, which has brought some to give up on church. Some believe or believe because of an experience that all churches just want to judge you and if you stick around, they will just hurt you, sounds like what the Pharisees and Herod wanted to do to Jesus. It is hard to find someone bold and on the side of truth, even at times in churches, but I bet a lot of people in Rockwall, Heath, Fate, Wylie, Forney, etc. still want to find a church. We all want to connect and what better way to connect with someone that through their faith in God. If we are looking for a church then, we need one that allows us to connect, to connect through an uplifting experience with good music, ways to make you a better person, to make friends, wait am I describing Facebook. Yes, connections, music, kind people and friends are things you can find at church, but if those things are not founded on what Jesus was going to do in Jerusalem, can it really be a place filled with Jesus’ followers?

The Pharisees made it clear that they were not Jesus’ followers because they did not want him to continue on to his goal in Jerusalem. Jesus had to go to Jerusalem to die. This was always his plan. It was this plan that would reconnect Jesus with all people. God needed to reconnect with mankind because sin separated us. In Jesus, that sin would be taken out of the picture by God punishing Jesus for our sins. This means our sins are so bad and so serious that they deserve death, but God was so serious about reestablishing that relationship with us that he allowed his own son Jesus to give his life to save us. Jesus also rose from the dead to show that our connection to God is not just for this life, but for life after death in heaven. Paul encourages us with that message in Romans 6:5

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

The issue all people have with Jerusalem is the cross. The cross is the issue because it treated sin as it truly is, a horrible curse. Everyone is affected by that curse. Therefore, no one is Jesus’ follower because he accepts a person for who they are. Instead we are Jesus’ followers by what he did for us.

When Jesus replied to the Pharisees, he revealed his desire to save the cursed world. After Jesus stood firm in his mission to go to Jerusalem, he said,  Luke 13 34

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

God was faithful in sending prophets to tell the people of Jerusalem about the Savior, but they would not listen. The religious leaders had all they needed in the Old Testament to recognize Jesus, but they rejected him. They rejected him because faith is not simply an intellectual decision, but it is given to us as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

The Pharisees and the people of Jerusalem rejected God’s gift. They rejected Jesus, but he would not reject the path to save them.

Jesus was willing to save us when we were not willing to be saved. Jesus showed how much he cared for the city that was about to put him to death through his illustration of the hen gathering her chicks under her wings. Mother hens are constantly running after their chicks as Jesus constantly calls to us through his Word. Even the repetition of the word, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” mirrors what he had done in the home of Mary and Martha earlier in Luke 10. When Jesus came to their home, Mary sat and listened to Jesus, while Martha was busy trying to prepare the meal and was angry that Mary was just sitting listening to Jesus. Jesus stopped Martha when she scolded her sister and said,

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus was the one thing needed. Jesus repeated Martha’s name like he repeated Jerusalem to deliver both a call to repentance and loving assurance of forgiveness. It is like when mom used your first and middle name when you did something wrong as a kid. Mom did it to show she was serious about what you were doing wrong and serious about her hope that you would start doing what is right. Jesus wanted the people of Jerusalem and all people to repent of their sins and look to him for forgiveness.

Jesus came to give his life on the cross to save us. He had to give up his life to save us and he had to come back to life to give us hope for life. Paul reminds us that our faith must be founded on what Jesus did in Jerusalem, in 1 Corinthians 15:14 he wrote,

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

We have no connection to Jesus if he did not both die for our sins and rise to give us life. The full impact of this teaching makes it hard for most to believe and in fact most will reject Jesus for who he was for us. We will also face rejection for this message, but we are called to share it with boldness and not turn away as Jesus did not turn away. In our New Testament reading from Philippians 3:18, Paul wrote,

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”

Paul had a hard life because he shared the full message of Jesus and was rejected by many, but he continued on because it is the message of life. We stand for something when we stand at the cross of Jesus. We stand there in humility and thankfulness that Jesus bought us back from death with the price of his own blood. We also have something to share standing at the cross of Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, thankful that he continued on to Jerusalem post about what Jesus has done for you. Use Facebook if you have it or another way you connect with people to post and share the truth. Don’t just leave it at Jesus loves me. Tell how he loves you, tell where he went, what he did, why he had to do it, what it means now and forever. Be bold even when others reject your message. Don’t argue though, move on toward your goal to continue to share the message. Be eager as Jesus was to gather more to him, and continue to pray for the unwilling, so that when Jesus returns on Judgment Day many will join us with joyful hearts to say, 35

“…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Blessed is Jesus who has come to take his children to heaven.

There are 2.32 billion followers on Facebook and 7.7 billion people in the world meaning 1 out of 3 people has Facebook. I’m not sure how many were affected when Facebook was having issues, but even if it was ten percent, that would still be millions of people. Facebook may have the power to bring people together, but it can’t bring them together forever. Jesus’ goal when he came into this world was to gather people to himself, but he didn’t do it in a way that everyone ‘liked’ or wanted to ‘follow.’ Jesus’ came to save all people from sin and death by giving his life as a sacrifice on the cross to save us. Only through what Jesus has done for us are we connected to God and to life forever. May God continue to fill us with thanks that Jesus reached his goal at the cross to gather his people. Amen.